Have a list of random useful stuff I've picked up on my web wandering this week.
Some snappy Networking tips from Lawyer2b editor Husnara Begum to get you thinking about how you might come across at such an event.
Interested in international secondments within a law firm? Listen to a free webinar from Eversheds on Monday 25th July. Their blurb:
Hear about trainees experiences of completing international secondments to our Paris corporate and public international arbitration teams and our company commercial teams in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Trainee will provide a first hand account of working and living in different jurisdictions.
Note you need to register in advance.
What skills do your lecturers think you should be developing? Check out some quick 'ask the man on the street' style video clips filmed at January's Learning in Law Conference (attended by me!). Here's the one featuring City's own Marcus Soanes:
To have exposure to a large, international law firm which finds itself right at the heart of global commerce is a rare opportunity – but one that anyone would surely relish. So to get that opportunity at the end of my first year at university was one I looked to grab with both hands.
I received a call from the Graduate Recruitment team at A&O at the beginning of July to inform me that I had been offered, based on my end of year results, an interview with the firm with a view to a one-week placement. I soon found out my friend and fellow first year Matthew Toms had also been called. Suffice it to say we were just a little anxious, but nonetheless excited to showcase our enthusiasm and capability.
We spent the next week or so cramming as much knowledge about the firm as possible: what it does, how and where it does it, and, most importantly, its culture and ethos. We scoured the globe for every known reputable source of information on A&O. We knew that the interview would not only be a chance to get across a flavour of our personality, but also an opportunity to impress with our passion for the legal profession and our appreciation of the kind of work A&O undertakes.
Our interviews were, given our limited experience, relatively long – just over half an hour apiece. An inevitable signal failure on the trains meant that I was almost one hour late for my interview: that was in spite of having left nigh two hours early. However, I got off the train and called up to say as much and managed to have it rearranged for later in the day. Public transport at its most vengeful could not spite my endeavours!
The interviews themselves were relaxed and any tension we had dissipated given the warmth our interviewers showed. A plethora of topics - from our hobbies and interests, our academic performance thus far and to our understanding and experience of practical commercial law - were discussed. Matthew and I both agreed that it felt more like a conversation than an interview, which (I think!) is a always a good sign.
And, after days of nervous wait, we were told we had secured a placement at the firm.
Fairness? Jumping through more and more hoops, Law Fairs and work experience applications – Sue Lenkowski
Welcome to the first of my bi-monthly blogs.
In these I will try to look at the most important issues concerning law students as you try to find your way around the recruitment maze. As an ex top twenty law firm graduate recruiter I will give you my views and advice and no doubt put forward the odd controversial comment!
This month I want to start by looking at the concept of fairness.
Alongside the Lib Dem partners in the coalition striving to redefine fairness following the CSR review I hear more and more law students say the concept of fairness is no longer valid in their search for a training contract. Faced with a saturated market both law firms and now post graduate institutions (see the move by Kaplan towards admissions tests for the LPC) are adding more and more hoops through which students must jump.
Fairness like beauty is in the eye of the beholder and whilst to a student with decent academics ( a 2.2 is now almost the end of your legal career) the cumbersome application forms, work experience and raft of psychometric tests and exercises is unfair .To a graduate recruiter faced with in many cases this year a 50% increase in applications this is fair and the only way to differentiate between candidates who in the words of Lord Sugar in the first episode of this seasons Apprentice “all look good on paper but so do fish and chips!”
In this saturated market more firms are making their training contract offers from their work experience /vacation schemes. The opportunity to see a student in the work place over one or two weeks having put them through a range of activities and tests ultimately increases the chance that the recruitment decision has the has the best chance of success. The cost of making a poor recruitment decision is massive and from a commercial perspective graduate recruiters need to show their contribution to the bottom-line.
In my experience too many students leave their applications strategy too late. The 80 20 rule applies to the student application process 80% of students making their applications at the last minute despite the long lead in time and well published deadlines.
My journey to Allen and Overy began as I was doing the dishes one summer evening in July 2010. I received a surprising call while listening to my music; it was the graduate recruitment team at Allen and Overy asking me whether I would be “interested” in a one week placement in September. While keeping my nerve and composure at the overwhelming request I answered – I would feel absolutely honoured at the prospect.
Nothing happened after this call for many weeks and I began to feel unsure about whether I would even get a confirmation of an interview. This thought persisted until I received a call – It was confirmed. I quickly called my friend who, by this point, had received a confirmation a week earlier. We agreed to practise interview questions on each other, research the firm and offer advice as this would surely give us an advantage during the interview process.
We hustled and bustled through endless amounts of information that was scattered across the internet; some useless and some very unique. I seem to recall reading about a phobia that one of Allen and Overy's founders had and actually contemplated its use. Yet, regardless of the authenticity, we wanted as much information about the firm in our arsenal so we could demonstrate our desire to be given the opportunity at working in such a prestigious organisation.
Then before I knew it, the day had finally come – D-Day. The most important interview of my life was upon me and I wasn’t going to take it lightly! I began the morning once again scanning through a pile of paper trying to locate any missing pieces I could fill into my head; alas there was nil. I did all the things people tell you to do: have a good night’s sleep, a good healthy breakfast and before leaving the house a quick game of FIFA to relax.
The FT's annual Innovative Lawyers report is out today with emphasis on the changing role of lawyers. Ideal reading for you lot to get a feel for what the real challenges facing the law firm of the future are. Find out how they are adjusting to the financial challenges and changing their business. There's an interesting piece on in-house legal departments...unfortunately you have to be a subscriber to get the content or go out and grab a copy from the newsagents!
Legal Week features a useful piece on getting a vac scheme, straight from the mouths of the law firms (SJ Berwin, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Linklaters and Freshfields). There's a couple of case studies which detail the vacation scheme experience and offer top tips.
Self-promotion. Is this a useful tool or a fatal temptation for trainees? – Elizabeth Cruikshank and Penny Cooper
“Self-promotion” simply means putting yourself forward, and there is a fine line to be drawn between making sure that you are noticed positively and being regarded negatively. On the one hand you want to promote your own “brand” and to be seen as more effective than the other trainees in your firm or chambers. On the other hand you do not want to appear pushy or smug; ‘know it alls’ are avoided by partners as well as by their fellow trainees.
The key to positive recognition, as with so many things in life, is moderation. It’s not necessary to wear a T-shirt advertising your outstanding successes; there are much more subtle ways to let others know about your achievements. Don’t feel that only momentous achievements will impress; an accumulation of little things can get you a reputation for consistency, reliability and sound thinking.
There are two groups of people that you should want to impress --- your colleagues and your clients. With both, subtlety rather than boastfulness will win the day.
What can you expect from a career in law after the Legal Services Act? Laurence Thomas and Adam Makepeace discuss the changing landscape of legal business and what it means for the lawyers of the future in their article entitled New Territory?
Rightly or wrongly, the Legal Services Act (LSA) 2007 brings to an end a tradition of ownership, control and management of the legal profession stretching back hundreds of years. Read the full article in Young Lawyer.
A banker’s view of the options for tomorrow’s legal business – Chris Marston of Lloyds TSB Commercial
Chris Marston, Head of Solicitors’ Banking at Lloyds TSB Commercial, offers some thoughts on the opportunities and the threats posed by the next stages of the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA).
Alternative Business Structures for law firms
Significant changes are predicted for law firm management when provisions of the LSA come into effect to allow Alternative Business Structures (ABS). What are Alternative Business Structures and when will they come into play? Let’s start with the definition, taken from the Solicitors Regulation Authority website:
'...new types of law firm which will be permitted from about 2012, such as a firm with more than 25 per cent non-lawyer managers, or a company taken over by a non-lawyer enterprise, or a company floated on the stock exchange, or a firm which provides both solicitor services and non-legal services; an alternative business structure will need to be licensed by a licensing authority as a licensed body; note that the Clementi Report classified LDPs as a type of ABS, but we tend to use the term to exclude LDPs.'
If you fail to plan then you plan to fail! – DMH Stallard event at The City Law School – Sandra Prevalus, GELLB1
I am sure that many of you are very familiar with this proverb. This quote essentially highlights the Legal Application and Interview seminar hosted by DMH Stallard on February 4th 2010.
While the representative from DMH Stallard highlighted their unique aspects as a City firm, the representee did provide some universal tips for current law students considering applying to their Law firm as well as others. It is a fact that most of us will have to embark on the stressful and highly competitive arena of obtaining the coveted training contract, which almost makes WWE wrestling look like a walk in the park.
...So where do you start?
Firstly, it’s all in preparation!
You must ask yourself a series of very important and intrusive questions such as,
What do I want from a training contract?
What are my personal goals?
Where do I want to live?
What hours do I want to work and etc...
These questions should help you in determining, to some degree of specificity, what to look for in a training contract.